Keleher succeeds as ensemble leader and musician

May 3, 2023


Lucas Tang ('23)

Keleher instructs the Symphony Orchestra

D-Wing is home to not only the students who make up the music department but also teachers such as Mr. Timothy Keleher, who are the backbone of the department.

What most don’t know about Keleher is that he had a successful career in music before coming to Cherry Hill as a teacher. Previously, Keleher was a full-time professional orchestra player and later became an administrator for the Opera Company of Philadelphia.

During his time touring, Keleher performed with headliners such as Gladys Knight, Peter Cetera, and Aretha Franklin at venues including the Tropicana and the Hilton. After 10 years, however, Keleher decided it was time for a change and made the transition to teaching.

“I had been playing out in California, and my wife and family had just moved back so I temporarily took a job substitute teaching in Cherry Hill schools—temporarily, so I told myself,” he said.

While the job was only supposed to be temporary, a Cherry Hill administrator recruited Keleher to take a full-time position, and he has taught in the district ever since. Although Keleher started teaching at East in 1988, he actually taught elementary and middle school music for six years prior.

Since coming to East, Keleher continues to find success both in and outside of the music department. In 2019, the Cherry Hill East Symphony Orchestra had the opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall as part of the Viennese Masters Orchestra Festival. Furthermore, in 1994, Keleher was awarded the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the New Jersey Symphony Master Teacher Collaborative. Currently, Keleher conducts the symphony orchestra, marching band, jazz band, jazz standards, wind symphony and the pit orchestra, all while also teaching AP Music Theory.

In 2020, Keleher and the music department as a whole faced a significant challenge— COVID-19. Now, one of Keleher’s main goals is to try and recover from the impact COVID-19 had and rebuild the program.

“We lost some numbers because of COVID, but the good news is I’ve been told that the fourth and fifth graders have all been signing up like crazy to be in the music program so we have a whole wave of new students coming,” he said.

Nevertheless, many members of the music department have flourished and found success. Although Keleher believes that the music department is overlooked, just this year, over 40 students have auditioned for and become members of several prestigious music programs, including All National Band and All National Jazz Band.

“There’s a lot of opportunities we have here [at East] that when I was in high school I didn’t have,” said Keleher. “These students have a lot here to help them grow and help them become the best they can be at music.”

Leave a Comment

Eastside • Copyright 2024 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in

Comments (0)

All Eastside Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *